Public and animal welfare organizations have raised doubts in response to the official announcement that Egypt’s historic Giza Zoo will close its doors for a year to undergo upgrades. Unfavorable situations, such as elephants chained on short chains and monkeys provoked by kids, have drawn negative attention in recent years. The zoo has long since lost its membership in the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (Waza). The elimination of the Victorian-era lion and bear cages and their replacement with open-range areas are among the many changes that have been promised. However, some who support animal rights are worried. They criticize the zoo’s plans for their lack of transparency and for showing little concern for the well-being of the animals held there, some of which are endangered species.

The Giza Zoo was first built by Egypt’s then-ruler, Ismail Pasha, in 1891. He once said he aimed to integrate Egypt into both Africa and Europe. It had priceless architectural features like a scaled-down suspension bridge built by Gustave Eiffel ten years before the construction of his famous Eiffel Tower, as well as unique flowers and animals. It is a valuable piece of land next to a deluxe hotel, a shopping mall, and the west bank of the Nile, and it is currently one of Greater Cairo’s rare green spots.